So you’re in a rut. That’s probably what got you googling “simple ways to boost my creativity” and got you here in the first place. I get you. It happens to all of us. Sometimes, we just feel drained of all creativity. So as someone who has “creative” literally added to my professional title, and does creativity for a living, let me share some of the simple techniques I use to squeeze out the creative juices on demand.
I promise no generic “one-size-fits-all” answers, but real tips that I actually personally use. Cool? Here we go:
1: Learn to Relax
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. “We just started and already the generic advice”, but no. Shut up. Hear me out. The relationship between stress and creativity is really complex. Sometimes, people under pressure put out some of the most creative solutions to their careers. Also managing a creative team is so important, too much stress can murder you and your team’s creativity, dissolve it in acid, and dump the remains in various sewers across Imaginationville.
Turns out that the other way to capture inspiration is when you’re not even trying. That’s because, when you let your brain wander, you’ll start thinking about all sorts of crazy things. Your craneal synapses will then connect thoughts together in ways that you couldn’t if you were trying, and Voila, brilliant idea.
So how do you relax? Well, I’ve taught myself to meditate. When you center yourself, it’s easier to think outside the box––you may want to combine this. At the very minimum, just don’t do anything for a while, boredom is good for the mind.
2: Change your Environment
The title here should be self-evident (unless you somehow thought I’m referring to the actual ecosystem). Creative work has a pretty odd effect on your brain. As you develop a routine, your brain starts to associate certain rooms with certain activities: the dining room is for eating, the office is for work, the bedroom is for sleeping––and other things, etc. But these days, a lot of us grab our instant ramen bowl and laptop and sit on our bed to work, with like, 20 youtube tabs open. The result is that your brain doesn’t know what task it’s supposed to be focused on.
But sometimes, even doing the right task in the right space––say: working in your office––isn’t enough to boost that creativity. In this case, changing your environment can change the way you approach a problem. Pick up your laptop and work outside, or work from a noisy coffee shop (for reasons I don’t understand, the creative mind can sometimes work better in an environment full of distractions).
3: Exercise and Prediction
The one thing everyone moans about when it comes to creative-based work is that it cannot be replicated in a manufactured environment. You can’t clock in and clock out at the creativity factory, the inspiration just flows when it flows: if you’re lucky, you’ll be at work, but sometimes, it’s in the middle of the night.
Well, what if you could actually turn the creativity on and off like a switch? Typically, it’s all about getting started. Creative types are too susceptible to what I like to call procrastination perfectionism: You refuse to start until the final product looks clear in your mind. The trick is to just start, and go over it late.
The process gets easier with repetition. The more and more you force yourself to start, the more likely your creative motor is to jumpstart. Eventually, your brain gets trained to spot patterns and predict how your creative project is going to conclude. That’s what I call “the sweet spot”.
4: Read and Listen to Classical Music
Reading FICTION (as opposed to non-fiction) is a great way to distract your brain and unwittingly boost that creativity you’ve been craving. Meanwhile, listening to classical music has been scientifically proven to stimulate the brain and help concentrate. Sooooo….
Put 2 and 2 together and…read fiction while listening to classical music for a good 45 minutes, put down the book, keep the music on your earphones and get to work!
5: Squeeze in an exercise sesh
You’re not Steve Jobs, and I’m pretty sure you’re not the Zuck either…so no need to take walking meetings. But if you want to get creative fast, get up, go for a jog, drop down and do some pushups…really any sort of physical activity helps release endorphins. And those are key to being productive while also being creative.
Of course, these 5 points are little hacks to jumpstarting your creative brain on the go. But the real secret is to develop long-term habits that make it easier to channel that creativity when you need it. Develop a regular sleep pattern, pick up a habit like chess, read books, share inspiration with friends, exercise regularly, and so on.